28 October 2004
"The One That Got Away"
As I sit here and decide as to how to post, I am overwhelmed with a grief proceeded by a heavy heart from the ensuing shift and the valleys that it had left within the Emergency Services within our area.
I am not going to mention the stupidity of some that call the ambulance which is, in its own way, entertaining and thought provoking to a point.
I am not going to tell the attributes of to the people that I interact with on the day to day basis and how their presence creates a commodary despite being either good or bad.
I AM going to give you the insight as to a call that had happened here just down the block from where I live. The aspect as to what I saw...and what I thought.
Plugging the truck back in, Kim came around the front and asked "Are you going back to bed?"
With only 90 minutes left in the shift, I contemplated "should I or shouldn't I?" I mean, was it really worth it. By the time I got back in bed and comfortable, it would be time to get up.
Naw..why waste it.
I hate mornings, I really do. However, once I get going there is really no stopping me. All I need is a swift kick out of the bed and some of Folger's finest and I am a new person.
Well, I got the out of bed part down.
Laying down on the couch in our private living room, I decided to flip on the playstation and go a few rounds on a new game that I had purchased. Usually. when I played a game, the time would fly past and before I knew it, I was well past the goal that I had set as to when to stop.
Boots off, I hit the red button on the system making it green and prepared to do battle on the small, yet sharp screen hanging on the wall in the room. Time to waste an hour.
Then the phone rang...
I paused the game...and waited...
and heard my pager go off.
I guess I was up in the rotation.
No worries, this would burn the hour that I needed and by the time I got back, I could go home where some uninterupted sleep laid dormant awaiting my arrival.
Walking to the truck, I got into the passenger seat and looked to see as to what type of call I was going on.
No need to look. To my left, I saw Ken getting into his truck. Two squads can only mean one thing...
Motor Vehicle Accident.
Opening the door of the truck, the computer voice "Emergency Pending" filled the apparatus bays with an echo that filled the air as if it told us the urgency of getting to where we needed to go.
Kim jumped into the driver's seat.
I pushed en route.
With a roar of the diesel engine of the truck, the strobes and flashers of the squad bounced off the dismal sky lighting the already rain stricken town casting a warning as to our coming.
The siren came on, the garage door closed, we pulled into traffic....the unknown was a few feet closer.
"91 responding with 93 second truck for an MVA at Lowell and Murray Ridge Rd. Police are on scene and confirm injuries...." the voice over the radio informed us.
"91, police request you expedite your response."
A trigger word. Hearing it, started an adrenalin flow throughout my body, a game plan in my head, and an alertness of my soul.
What was I going to find? How bad were they hurt? Is the police oversizing the scene? My stomach started to turn into knots. The faster we went, the longer it felt that the scene was,
A message came over the MDT.
"Police are really getting nervous.." the computer screen told.
Hitting "OK" to clear the message, Kim came down the bridge and around the corner to a long stretch of straight road. In the distance, I saw red and blue lights along with the familiar strobes of the fire pumper that is assigned to that district. Traffic was backed for almost a half mile on a moderately travelled road. The scene was getting closer, the anxiety grew fierce, it was almost time to do what we were trained for...it was go time.
About a quarter mile out from the scene, I noticed the scene lights from the fire vehicle turn on, raise, and point in a field...then I witnessed what could only spell trouble...
Firefighters running....never a good sign.
Pulling onto scene, I noticed what was once an SUV sitting in its remains in the middle of the street. Through the remains of the window, I saw two people sitting in their assigned seats. Both conscious, both alive, both lucky. A firefighter assisted in intial immobilization by placing a collar on the patient...Then....it got worse.
Looking to my right, I noticed a car in the field. A firefighter sprinting to the passenger side of the car throwing his gloves off to the ground.
As we stopped, a cop opened the door. His face was pale and is body language anxious and excited. He pointed to the car waving his hand with a little child's movement as to say "He did it..he did it."
"I think she may be dead..you better hurry." His voice shreaked of terror.
Pointing to the other car, I motioned for Kim to check the SUV as I ran down to the lone fireman in the field. What I saw was not good. What I saw, heightened my, already red lined, anticipation. What I saw tunneled my thoughts.
Inside the vehicle sat a lone female still strapped in by her safety belt leaning over to the passenger seat....lifeless.
"I can't..I can't feel a pulse!!!" the firefighter yelled.
Checking for a carotid, I closed my eyes and prayed that I would feel the beat of her heart pulsating through my index finger.
Running back up to the truck, Kim and I updated each other.
"I got two that probably aren't going to go. What do you have??" She informed and asked.
Running right past her, I talked over my shoulder as to not get side-tracked.
"I got a possible trauma arrest..call it in!!" I said as I ran away from her with the monitor from the truck.
Hearing Kim call in the calvary on the radio, I ran down to assess the female in the car.
Looking at her lifeless and apnec body, my head told me that there was nothing we could do. She was dead and beyond my help. My heart told me not to let go. In 15 seconds, I was going to find out which one was right...I attached the leads to her body.
A flat line appeared....
The rhythm was too slow to have a pulse and for all intents and purposes, the patinet had expired in the car....
That wasn't good enough for me. For me, it was a sign of life, a sign of hope, a shred of light, and I was going to take it.
I yelled for more gear. I was going to do whatever it took..even if it was beyond my means.
The car was flooded with a barroge of help handing equipment to help preserve the little life we had. On the driver's side, I could look out and see two firemen running with the generator used to power the Jaws of Life unit. I needed them to cut that car...and I need them to do it now.
With a pull of the cord, the unit came to life. The extrication began. Her feet were wedged under the steering column. Her body wedged by the two foot intrusion of the door wedging her against the center console of the car. The extrication team had their work cut out for them...the clock was ticking.
Meanwhile, we worked on our patient. Craig came down from the other truck to help. I asked Craig to intubate her..I needed to get a patent airway...and this was not going to be easy.
Because it was dark out, we had no light, the patient was still sitting up, and there was absolutely no room to maneuver.
Suctioning out the patient, Craig grabbed a 7.0 ET tube and went for an insertion. Shaking his head, Craig doubted the proper insertion and placement of the tube. Kim listened for lung sounds. Nodding, the tube was in place. I ventilated with a bag valve mask as Craig secured it. Alternating with chest compressions, there was no resistance to bagging. The tube was good. All I needed now to do was to get her out. Fire worked feverishly to get her out.
The seconds became minutes..An eternity overwhemled all of us as we scrambled to get everything ready for her transport. We waited for the go ahead from fire....and waited...and waited....
Minutes later, the door was free. A firefighter reached in and freed her feet. Craig and I pulled her over the console and onto our awaiting backboard. Strapping her in, I ran up to the truck to get ready for her to be loaded.
It felt like hours we were there. It was only 18 minutes.
Locking the cot into place, the supervisor came up to us telling us that the driver of the other car was having some chest pain and that I would not have the help of the other crew.
Pulling a firefighter that helped extricate, I asked him to go with us as we would need the help. A paramedic also, it gave, yet one more set of hands that were needed to continue ressucitation of this woman.
Calling to the supervisor, I told him that I needed Kim in the back with me and asked if he could drive. Giving no hesitation to my request, he jumped up front and started the descent to the hospital.
En route, we began to get a more stable and thorough aspect as to what were up against. Checking the monitor, there was no change in the rhythm..and no change in her condition. Kim and the Firefighter/Medic tried for IV access while I called the hosptial. We continued CPR..we continued breathing for her...we continued to try to save her life.
Within minutes we arrived at the hospital and moved her over to the bed. I gave report to the nursing staff. The doctor came in. The curtain closed....
Fifteen minutes later..she was dead.
As an EMS personnel, we are trained to think "on the fly". To comphrehend a game plan and execute it within seconds. We are sworn to preserve life and promote healing. This was all part of my job, this is what I do.
This is not what I thought on scene.
When I looked at her for the first time, I didn't see a victim. I didn't see a lifeless body, I didn't see a casualty of a misfortune.
I saw a mother laying in bed, sound asleep keeping warm through the cold night...be disturbed by a telephone call...telling her that her daughter died.
I saw a woman who still had decades ahead of her to live her dreams and celebrate the miracle of just being alive.
I saw a family mourning the loss of a daughter, a sister, a friend.
This young lady was not drinking and driving, nor was she doing drugs. She was on her way to work..when she misjudged a stop sign.
She was only 22.
As I write this entry, I retrospect the events of the day. When I closed my eyes, I can still see her face. I can still flush sorrow through my blood. I sit here and mourn....not only over the loss of the life, but the lives that will be changed by it...forever.
I sit here and I cry....
...for the one that got away.
Rounding Third and Heading Home,